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Enjoy a flower-filled spring getaway in the Low countries!
The mother of all flower parks. Millions of flowering plants, including Daffodils, lilies, hydrangeas, hyacinths, and most of all *tulips!* make Keukenhof a fairy-tale land of color and bloom every spring from early April to mid-to-late May. Over 700,000 visitors a year come to the park, so weekends can be a bit crowded. But even with hordes of people, it's impossible not to be moved or impressed by the vibrant color everywhere you turn. Bulbs from top growers are also available for sale in the park. Full information on opening times, entry fees, and access are available on the Keukenhof website at http://www.keukenhof.nl
Amsterdam is a wonderful home base for exploring the spring flower blooms all over Holland, and Maes B&B is one of the best places I've stayed in the city. Just on the edge of the quaint, quiet Jordaan district, but still close to and convenient to the bustling city center, the location is perfect, and hosts Vlad and Ken are incredibly helpful, hospitable, and great fun. Full, hearty breakfast including fresh fruit, fresh bread, poffertjes, sweet cakes, ham, cheese, jams, yogurt, coffee, tea, and orange juice. Fresh flower decorations, and lovingly decorated rooms and apartments all at reasonable rates.
Every day, over 19 million fresh flowers are sold at this giant (1 million m2) auction house near the Amsterdam Schipol airport. This is over 40% of all fresh flowers in the WORLD! Admission is 4.50 Euro for adults. An excellent stopover in the early morning hours before an early flight out of Schipol. Monday to Friday, between 7.30 and 11.00 am and between April 4th and September 30th, between 7.00 and 11.00 am. Come early if you donât want to miss anything! The auction is at its most beautiful before 9.00 am. Monday is the busiest day, Thursday the quietest. Not wheelchair-accessible.
Located on the Singel canal between the Muntplein and Koningsplein, these permanent floating barges have served as a flower market since the 1800s. They sell fresh flowers and plants as well as seeds and bulbs; unfortunately, a large part of the market now consists of typical Dutch souvenir shops. The most disappointing flower-related thing we did on our flower trip.
These greenhouses, built for King Leopold II in 1873, cover about 6 acres and are adjacent to the Royal Palace in Laeken. They are the private property of the king, but they are opened to the public for 2-3 weeks a year at the end of April and beginning of May. On Fridays and Saturdays they are also open in the evenings. This tradition of public opening has been carried out annually for the past century. Admission is only 2 euros; parking is free across the street from the main entrance to the Royal Palace. Fantastic displays of cherry trees, geraniums, fuschias, azaleas, ferns, citrus trees, and several rare and exotic tropical plants. Less busy during the week; closed on Mondays.
One of my absolute favorite flower experiences! For approximately 3 weeks every year, this little forest about 20 minutes south of Brussels is hit with an explosion of color as millions of wild hyacinths ("wild bluebells") coat the ground in a phenomenal fragrant carpet of purply-blue. A real magical fairy land. Fairly well known, but every time I've visited I've felt like the only person in the world, a lucky soul who has discovered a secret world. The article I've linked to includes easy to follow directions by car to the forest.
These 2 train routes cut through amazing swaths of massive tulip bulb fields, which when blooming are truly an amazing feast of color for the eyes. It's amazing to think that these lush colorful flowers are really not used for anything and are "mowed" down periodically to enhance the growth of the bulbs, which are the REAL cash crop. But if you're lucky enough to be riding through these fields when they are in bloom, it's an unforgettable sight. Bicycles can also be rented in Lisse or at Keukenhof for cycling through the tulip fields.